Monday, January 31, 2011

Grandma Rose's Zucchini Pie!

Every few months, some friends and I get together at my house for "Breakfast at Tiffany's!" It's usually on a weekday morning, after we drop the kids off at school. Everyone brings something to eat & drink while we just relax and enjoy each other's company. It's a great break for some friends on their way to work, and an even better break for the mom's of little kids that would otherwise wreak havoc at ...(gasp)... a public coffee shop! (never MY little ones, of course....)

Anyway, last week, I made my Grandma Rose's recipe for Zucchini Pie. It's a simple recipe that is light enough to have for brunch, and is served well best when warm or at room temp (perfect for a long, drawn out coffee gathering). I love this recipe so much, if I don't have it for brunch, I sometimes make it alongside a light pasta dish and eat a piece with some marinara on the side.

1/2 cup vegi oil
4 eggs
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 cup self rising flour
3 cups sliced zucchini
cayenne pepper

Mix wet ingredients. Mix in the flour. Combine with the sliced zucchini. Spread evenly into a casserole dish and sprinkle the top lightly with cayenne pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool, cut, and serve warm.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The PERFECT Pancake

Every weekend we try to make a big, hearty breakfast at least once. For YEARS we have been trying different pancake recipes. After abandoning our box of Bisquick, finding something we ALL loved was pretty tough. Until, after a lot of experimentation and research, we came up with this:

I kid you not when I say it is perfect, because, truly, it is. There is no pancake that tastes fluffier than this precise recipe, which takes just as much prep time as Bisquick, so give up those partially hydrogenated oils already! You can do this! You will be healthier and happier for doing so. (unless, of course, you pair it with some fried Jimmy Dean sausage patties and eggs fried in the sausage grease - my fav)

But health is not ALL that matters here. This recipe involves most ingredients that you already have on hand, and it's down right easy - like Sunday morning...

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
7 tsps baking powder (this is the secret to the fluffiness!)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
6 tbsp melted salted butter (this is the secret to the 'perfect' cooking and, of course, the perfect taste)
2 1/2 cups milk

Mix all wet ingredients first. Then, mix all dry ingredients separately. Combine and whisk together. Cook on a lightly greased griddle until bubbles begin to form on one side. Flip. Cook. EAT!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I have two favorite things right now - Italian french toast and McDonald's apple pies.

What?...that's perfectly normal.....:)

I'm pregnant, therefore I eat.......for two. Which is probably why I finish two of these pies for breakfast and then again around 10:30 p.m. like clockwork. Some may see this as simply a poor pregnant girl indulging her craving. I choose to look at it quite differently...

I am doing the American fast food industry a favor. I am passing onto my children a lifetime of tastebuds for America's #1 fast food chain. They will inevitably grow up and continue my legacy of buying every McDonalds in town out of their apple pie supply. I kid you not. Then I go home, eat two, and stash the rest in the fridge. It's really quite brilliant, if I do say so myself. And while it may not be healthy (or Italian), I still reason out this craving to be my serving of fruit for the morning.

Likewise, I find the "health" in my love of Italian French Toast. You have no idea what this is, you say? Well, let me enlighten you, my friends, for you are missing out on something truly wonderful.

Now, I have been eating this since I was a kid, and when I share the recipe with people I usually get one of two responses. Either the person is completely disgusted at my excessive use of mayonnaise, or they are completely IN LOVE with my excessive use of mayonnaise!

So my dad and I used to get up on a Saturday morning and soak some of the Italian bread from last night's dinner in a mixture of beaten eggs, heavy cream, grated romano cheese, basil, black pepper, and a touch of garlic salt. Heavenly! Then we would fry it in some melted butter to make our own version of french toast! Then....wait for it......we would dip the entire thing in a mayonnaise sauce made from mayo, grated cheese, basil, pepper, and a touch of garlic salt! Again, heavenly. (Yes, this was breakfast)

Well, my husband, who works in the hotel business, likes to go back in the kitchen and spend some time with the Chef every so often. They sit there and talk and eat and concoct recipes and......... I'm really quite jealous of his job, now that I think of it.....must be nice.

Anyway, unbeknownst to him, my hubby came home one day to show me his latest creation, which happened to be an adaptation of my favorite Italian breakfast snack - the french toast! He spread the exact mayonnaise mixture on sliced ciabatta bread, and then fried it in some melted butter. It was the PERFECT snack for the little one inside me (It's really not about me, people. It's whatever the BABY likes!!!) Well, this baby loves it.

And so as I conquer random nausea and my disgust at the sight of certain foods, the apple pies and Italian French toast are still keeping me - I mean, baby - happy. They are the only things that I can eat early in the morning without feeling like gagging, which is odd considering the richness of the mayo and butter, and the sweetness of the apple pies, but hey - it's not my taste - it's this baby!

Why do I think I'll end up with a picky eater?

Well, I must leave you all with one warning. I am known for falling in love with a certain snack, and then eating so much of it that I can no longer even stand the thought of eating it again. I went through this during my last pregnancy with Twinkies, and I'm afraid I might be at it again. Which saddens me, considering my lifelong love for the above mentioned items. Nonetheless, I will try to use the principle of moderation, and I might need some help. I need some other 'craving ' suggestions to feed this baby:) Comment with your ideas or post them on facebook. I'd love to hear the strangest cravings you or someone you know has had while pregnant!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Big Cheese!

So as you might have already heard, bambino/a #5 is on the way for us! That's right, five kiddos. Before you draw up the paperwork to have me committed, hear me out....
Kids are tough, but coming from a family of only TWO kids (me and my younger brother) I always wanted a big family. My husband, on the other hand was #6 of 7 kids, so he felt the same way:) And so here we are, with four (and a half) kiddos, where our house is messy, our family dinners are loud, and our weekends are full of fun. In a certain sense, it keeps you young;)

So somehow with this "youth" and my expertise in being pregnant, I have found the time to let you all follow along with my unusual pregnancy cravings. Aside from tomato juice with a dash Tabasco sauce in the morning (weird, right?!) I just cant seem to eat enough CHEESE! I guess they say whatever you crave is what your body is in need of, so perhaps I need more calcium? Who knows?!
Who cares?!
Cheese is darn yummy and I am all about eating it alone, with crackers, with fruit, on pasta...and even, IN pasta! So here's some cheese stuffed dishes for your enjoyment!

(that's what the restaurant called it anyway...this recipe is adapted from my long-time love of a favorite restaurant's cheese tortellini in a spicy pink sauce)

1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
a few tbsp e.v.o.o.
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 cup heavy whipping cream
black pepper to taste

This sauce is so simple, it just takes a bit of love and attention. Saute the onions in the butter and olive oil. WATCH THEM CAREFULLY. You want to use a medium heat and sweat the onions. Try not to let them get any color. This means waiting patiently for them to turn transparent. While cooking, add the crushed red pepper. The spice infuses the oil with the help of the heat and adds a lasting bite to the sauce. Add the can of tomatoes. Puree with a hand blender. Simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the raw tomato taste is cooked out, and the flavors meld. Lower the heat to low, and slowly add the cream, while stirring. Do not let it boil. (see what i mean by TLC?) bring back up to temp, serve over CHEESE tortellini, and LOVE EVERY BITE!

This is a recipe my dad had recently experimented with, which also incorporates my second love - cheese. (My first love is arguably my husband...or, at the moment, McDonald's apple pies -I'm not quite sure.) This is a very creative combination of lobster and ricotta cheese, stuffed in a homemade pasta dough, cut into ravioli and served with a tomato cream sauce made with shallots and brandy. Given the way that my dad and I cook, recipes are hard to come by. It's usually a little of this and a little of that, but I can tell you the basics and if you want more details, email me...SUBITO!

Stuffing: Saute some minced shallots in e.v.o.o. and cook the seasoned lobster in them. Remove and let cool. Roughly chop the lobster and mix with beaten egg, grated cheese, ricotta cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

Sauce: Saute some minced shallots in e.v.o.o. Add the brandy, cook out the alcohol. Add the crushed tomatoes, simmer. Add the heavy cream (using a similar method as above). You may or may not want to cook some additional lobster in with the shallots and brandy to make it more of a fishy dish.

Here's some pics to get you started:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Anthony's Spaghetti Sauce & Meatballs

So years back, I made a connection with the owner of the website, Anthony's Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs! What a guy this is. He has shared his entire family's ancestry - photos, documents and all - online for others to share. He's got photos, videos, and recipes for all the huge, well-known Italian dishes. He recently added step by step instructional videos. I have not personally tried any of his recipes yet, but thanks to the Internet, I feel I've made yet another valuable Paisan connection that I wanted to share with all of you! So take a look at his YouTube channel, which has all his instructional videos, and his Italian Links page, where you will undoubtedly find access to several Italian online resources! Check it out & Felice Anno Nuovo!
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